30 Amazing Hidden Gems in Missouri

Written by Bart Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Popularly known as the “Cave State” after the 6,000 plus recorded caves in the state, Missouri is a part of the Midwestern region of the United States of America. Named after the third US president Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson City is the state’s capital and is regarded as the most beautiful town in America.

The 18th most populous state in the nation, Missouri has been the birthplace of several eminent personalities of American history, notably Mark Twain, Chuck Berry, Walt Disney, and Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States of America.

With Mississippi River to its east and the Ozark Mountains to the south, Missouri has been inhabited by human population for over 12,000 years.

Kansas City is the largest city in the state and is most famous around the country and the world for its barbeques and jazz music. Officially dubbed as the ‘City of Fountains’, Kansas City is home to the fountains at Kauffman Stadium, the world’s largest privately funded fountain.

The ‘Show Me’ state of Missouri is known in the American history and culture as a pool of diverse opportunities and attractions. From the indigenous tribes to the 21st-century literati, the state has seen it all and done it all.

Let’s take a moment to delve deeper and find out the best hidden gems in Missouri so we can cherish them for years to come.

1. Welch Spring Hospital Ruins, Jadwin

Welch Spring Hospital Ruins JadwinSource: Carrie Gardner Burke / Facebook
Welch Spring Hospital Ruins Jadwin

Now nothing more than a camping spot to passing tourists, Welch Springs Hospital Ruins, by the banks of Current River in Jadwin, Missouri was once a popular healing site (or could have been) which was discovered and later bought by C.H. Diehl in 1913, an Illinois based doctor, who claimed that the water at the springs had brilliant healing powers.

Reportedly, the fresh, pollen-free waters that sprouted out of the surrounding caves had helped him with his hay fever which made him believe that the soothing waters could heal prolonged ailments such as tuberculosis, asthma, and emphysema. And, in an attempt to materialize the same and invite visitors to gain from the discovery, he established a ‘hospital’ at the mouth of the caves.

Unfortunately, accessibility to the caves was not so convenient, and, so, his plans of building a natural health spa never took a substantial shape. After the good doctor passed away, his family couldn’t be bothered about the site, and, thus, the site today sits as just another ruin forgotten in time.

2. Bonne Terre Mines, Bonne Terre

Bonne Terre Mines Bonne TerreSource: The Mine at Bonne Terre / Facebook
Bonne Terre Mines Bonne Terre

Once the largest lead ore producer in the world, Bonne Terre Mines were used to dig ores from 1870 till 1962. Hundreds of workers mined at the site and huge mining machinery was installed around the underground caves to reap the maximum benefit out of the chambers.

However, flooding and a sudden strike of underground water submerged the chambers underwater and with it sank millions of dollars’ worth of equipment that resulted in permanent closure of the mining business.

As if nature had other plans for the wonderful channels of caves and tunnels, the chambers were reopened and now are regarded as the largest freshwater diving site in the world.

Completely lifeless due to the toxic lead particles in the flowing water, the dive location offers 24 different diving pathways across 17 miles of subterranean channels and an amazing collection of rusted mining tools and machinery resting at the bottom of the “Billion Gallon Lake.”

If you are not a professional diver, you could take a boat tour or a walking trail to the regions which allow access.

3. Glore Psychiatric Museum, St. Joseph

Glore Psychiatric Museum St. JosephSource: Apex Paranormal / Facebook
Glore Psychiatric Museum St. Joseph

While most of the original building serves as a section of the city’s prison, what’s left of this brilliant structure are the four floors of collection that depict the evolution of mental illness cure and medicine along with 130 years of State Lunatic Asylum’s history.

The Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri is named after George Glore who dedicated the majority of 41 years of work and expertise to creating replicas of the devices that were used in the 16th, 17th, and 18th century to treat mental illness patients.

A collection that started off as a passion of a history buff, the present-day museum is an end result of Glore’s work which was highly encouraged and respected by the officials of Missouri Department of Mental Health, his workplace.

Aside from the original equipment like the Wheel, lobotomy instruments, and Benjamin Rush’s Tranquilizer Chair, the museum also displays life-like replicas and dioramas along with artworks created by patients.

4. Devil’s Icebox, Columbia

Devil's Icebox ColumbiaSource: Gary Bitsicas / Facebook
Devil’s Icebox Columbia

Missouri may be known to the world as the ‘Show Me’ state or the home of the ‘Cave City’, but there is more to this Midwestern gem than meets the eye. The Devil’s Icebox, amidst the Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, is a one-of-a-kind cave that manages to retain its calm, 56-degree temperature throughout the year.

Frequented by students and visitors from Columbia, the Icebox serves as an entrance to two other caves and houses a flowing river within.

From April to May and August to October each year, the Icebox holds caving tours through its various sections – starting with level A for the novices to level D for the expert spelunkers.

During summer, the caves are flocked by numerous bats and the karst topography of the surrounding ambiance makes for a perfect vacation for those in search of a natural retreat.

5. Lemp Mansion, St. Louis

Lemp Mansion St. LouisSource: St. Louis Paranormal Research Society / Facebook
Lemp Mansion St. Louis

The story of Lemp Mansion goes hand in hand with the history of German immigration and beer brewing in the city of St. Louis, Missouri.

One of the first beer breweries in the United States of America, Western Brewery was the brainchild and prodigy of Johann “Adam” Lemp who moved to the city in 1839 and started brewing and selling beer in 1840. The business was handed over to Adam’s first son, William J. Lemp, under whose supervision, Western Brewery grew to be the largest of its kind in the city and outside New York with a sole owner.

Even though William’s fourth son, Frederick, was to run the company as per his desire, but William J. Lemp Jr. aka Billy, William Sr.’s first son followed the family path and inherited the heirloom. William and his wife moved to the Lemp Mansion in 1873 and changed the business name to William J. Lemp brewing company.

Frederick, the fourth son, had significant health problems which were unknown to the Lemp family, and after his death of a heart attack in 1901, hell came crashing down on the family and family business. As if the whole family was cursed, William Sr. committed suicide by shooting himself in 1904. Shortly after, Billy faced a divorce charge and shot himself to death in 1922.

Elsa Lemp Wright, William Sr.’s daughter and the youngest child, shot herself in bed in 1920, and the last remaining of the family, Charles Lemp shot his dog and himself in 1949.

Now, the property serves as a restaurant and inn and hosts periodic tours into the history and haunting past of the Lemp Mansion.

6. Kansas City Library’s Giant Bookshelf, Kansas City

Kansas City BookshelfSource: EQRoy / shutterstock
Kansas City Bookshelf

Undoubtedly, the magnificent town of Kansas City is known to the world for its amazing collection of caves, however, that is not all. Aside from the caves, the garage for the public library Central branch is considered as intriguing as the Cave City’s other jewels.

A thoughtful façade that looks like a Giant Bookshelf with a row of books that are 25 feet in the air and nine feet wide encloses the parking garage from outside. Built in 2006, this themed parking garage was designed to solve the parking problems of the downtown area and the idea for the ‘Bookshelf’ exterior was a joint effort of the community members.

Among many others, some of the book titles include J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, and Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.

7. Kansas City Workhouse, Kansas City

Kansas City Workhouse Kansas CitySource: Mark Bogard‎ / Facebook
Kansas City Workhouse Kansas City

Known as the “Workhouse Castle”, this giant hulk of a structure was built in 1897 and was meant to serve as a towered prison. The prisoners, often beggars and drunks who committed petty thefts, were involved in local public work by the jail. The “castle” is known to be one of their first creations which were created by the first inmates using limestone boulders dug right out of the surrounding ground.

The prison’s medieval European architecture not only made the structure stand out but also gave it an air of dominance in the area.

After a few decades of passing over from one owner to another, the Workhouse Castle finally shut down permanently in 1972.

The abandoned structure was soon discovered by graffiti artists who used the walls to create bold, intriguing expressions of their artwork. Though talks of turning the space into a community center have been going around for some time now, ironically, the walls of this imposing castle stays preserved and decorated in art created by those who may have easily found their way in if the prison still stood to function!

8. Leila’s Hair Museum, Independence

Leila's Hair Museum IndependenceSource: Malinda Pierce / Facebook
Leila’s Hair Museum Independence

So, you thought you know of all the ‘strange’ museums in the world and there is nothing more to surprise you? Think again. Leila’s Hair Museum, the ONLY one of its kind in the whole universe, is located in Independence, Missouri, and it boasts of collection that includes over 600 wreaths and 2000 pieces of exquisite jewelry made from HUMAN HAIR!

The history to know when this art form was first started is slightly vague but it is believed that it goes all the way back to the Victorian era and the 12th century when hair was used to create memorabilia that could be kept as a keepsake from a loved one (no, there were no cameras back then!). These interesting pieces also served as a memory of a deceased family member.

The museum’s oldest brooch was made in 1680 and donated to the museum in the 1800s by the last standing member of a Swedish family.

Leila Cohoon, the owner and caretaker, reportedly has mastered 30 out of 35 techniques that were used to create the various pieces of jewelry and tokens, and offers classes to those who are interested.

9. Treasures of the Steamboat Arabia, Kansas City

Treasures Of The Steamboat ArabiaSource: Arabia Steamboat Museum / Facebook
Treasures Of The Steamboat Arabia

On September 5th, 1856, the expansive Arabia hit a submerged walnut tree during its usual tour of the Missouri River, and despite several efforts, sank to the bottom of the river with 200 tons of cargo and a mule!

The steamboat hit the river bottom within a day and even after several attempts, neither the boat nor the cargo could be recovered. The shipwreck remained abandoned and a folklore for over a century until 1987 when Bob Hawley and his sons, located the ‘lost’ steamboat under a pile of mud and silt.

The Hawleys along with a few friends and family members decided to unearth the sunken monster, and after a year’s dedication and hard work, the group started to unveil the treasures of Arabia.

Today, all of Arabia’s treasures including remarkably preserved guns, tools, clothing, entire crates of China and food is stored at the Treasures of the Steamboat Arabia Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, and is regarded as the largest exclusive collection of pre-Civil War artifacts.

10. Turtle Playground, St. Louis

Turtle Playground St. LouisSource: Angela Perdicaro / Facebook
Turtle Playground St. Louis

As a child, you probably have been warned numerous times about playing by the highway, but the Turtle Playground isn’t just another spot or stopover at the intersection between Oakland Ave and Tamm Ave, St. Louis, Missouri. An intriguing themed playground, the public park was designed by Bob Cassilly of the City Museum (St. Louis) fame.

Created in the late 90s, the Turtle Playground comprises larger-than-life sculptures of reptiles made of concrete. Most ‘reptiles’ in the park were inspired by the local species found in the area. Consisting many turtles and a really long snake, whose body is designed to serve as an entrance to the park, are the usual inhabitants of the Turtle Playground.

When threats of destroying the establishment due to a construction on Highway 40 surfaced in 2007, Cassilly disguised himself as a thief and chopped the snake’s head off, thus making a statement that only he had the power and rights to damage his creation. Message well-received, the ‘head’ and the playground have both been restored and reopened since then.

11. The Ozark Spooklight, Joplin

Also known as the Hornet Ghost Light, the Tri-State Spook Light, and the Joplin Ghost Light (and so on), the Ozark Spooklight is apparently a mysterious round glow that appears periodically eleven miles southwest of Joplin. The light has made infrequent appearances since 1881, though some claim to have seen the event way before the recorded time.

Several ‘logical’ explanations have been derived from the phenomenon, the most sensible of which that they are the reflections of car lights. However, the theory has been challenged by the fact that the lights were visible before there were any cars driving down this road.

There are several stories (read ‘rumours’) behind the Ozark Spooklight – some say it’s the ghost of a Confederate soldier looking for his head, or the ghost of a decapitated miner, or that it is the ghost of a beheaded Osage Indian who is searching for HIS head.

12. Taum Sauk Mountain, Ironton

Taum Sauk Mountain IrontonSource: Alan Milster / Facebook
Taum Sauk Mountain Ironton

The Ozarks dominate the southern part of Missouri, and Taum Sauk Mountain is known to be the oldest and the highest peak of St. Francois Mountains (a part of the Ozarks).

Apparently, Piankeshaw chief Sauk-Ton-Qua’s daughter fell in love with a warrior from an enemy tribe. When Sauk found out, he killed the warrior by throwing him off the cliff, and Sauk’s daughter followed her lover in death. This infuriated the mystical Storm King, who, out of his wrath, summoned a hurricane to destroy the entire tribe.

The Mountain is supposedly named after the tribe leader and his tragic tale.

Taum Sauk’s summit is marked by granite inscription from the Missouri Association of Registered Land Surveyors.

13. The Pinnacles, Sturgeon

The Pinnacles SturgeonSource: Betty Briner Davidson‎ / Facebook
The Pinnacles Sturgeon

Not to be confused by the national park in California, the Pinnacles in Missouri are considered as a geological anomaly. River erosion causing steep cliffs to be formed out of large boulders is not so uncommon, but, in this case, a 300-year-old limestone formation which was wedged between two rivers eroded over a period of time and formed the ‘Pinnacles’.

A spiky formation, the Pinnacles stand 75 feet high and stretch up to 1,000 feet. The limestone formation, known as the Burlington Limestone, stands between Kelley Creek and Silver Fork Creek, as the streams gradually dissolve portions of the stone.

A part of the Pinnacles Youth Park, the formations are unique and make a perfect spot for hiking and rock climbing.

14. Pruitt-Igoe’s Remains, St. Louis

Pruitt-Igoe's Remains St. LouisSource: Jeremy Iannucci / Facebook
Pruitt-Igoe’s Remains St. Louis

Pruitt-Igoe, a housing project completed in 1954, was to be the most-perfect community in the entire United States of America, but, within a decade of habitation, it became the most notorious housing project in the nation.

Designer Minoru Yamasaki (best known for his work on World Trade Center) and George Hellmuth planned to house the whites in Igoe while the blacks were to stay at the Pruitt. But, the idea of coexisting in the same community didn’t charm the whites, and, soon, the whole community was taken over by African-Americans.

Though an iconic failure of what it was meant to be, the former residents recall the initial experience as that of extreme joy and a blessing filled with amenities from the 20th century.

As drug trafficking, gang wars, prostitution, and shooting became a daily thing, the residents and project owners finally gave up hope, and in a haunting display of their dismay, blew up the entire housing project with dynamites.

All that remains now is an urban jungle and a graveyard for all those aspirations of a better future attached to it in the middle of St. Louis, Missouri.

15. Bothwell Lodge, Sedalia

Bothwell Lodge SedaliaSource: Phyllis Moore‎ / Facebook
Bothwell Lodge Sedalia

Worried much about the effects of air-conditioning on high consumption of energy and how it affects our environment (and pockets)? Take a page from the designing book of Bothwell Lodge – a house that has been built over a natural cave so it could keep the interiors pleasant and cool, naturally!

Originally named the Stonyridge Farm, the structure was built over 30 years ago by John Homer Bothwell, a wealthy lawyer, as a retreat location for himself and his friends. Spreading over 12,000 square feet, the Lodge had 31 rooms and a medieval European style of architecture.

Though the edifice itself resonated of ultimate beauty, the most intriguing feature of the Bothwell Lodge were the three underground caves that were discovered during construction. To benefit from this natural occurrence, Bothwell ordered several access points to be built within the building so fresh, natural breeze could pass conveniently through the whole house.

The estate grounds are open for biking and hiking, and tours are easily available.

16. Jesse James Home Museum, St. Joseph

Jesse James Home Museum St. JosephSource: High’s Trip & Roadside / Facebook
Jesse James Home Museum St. Joseph

Americans, as we know it, are fair to all – celebrities, humanitarians, soldiers, criminals! The Jesse James Home Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri is one such example of how a notorious criminal is remembered even after decades of him being shot dead.

As the story goes, Jesse James, one of the most notorious outlaws in the history of the United States of America, had a great run as a criminal, and finally decided to settle down with his family in the city. Despite being feared as one of the deadliest bandits, James was also known as a concerned family man.

Unfortunately, by the time he decided to come clean, there was a $10,000 bounty on James’ capture. An offer too lucrative to avoid, Robert Ford, a former accomplice of James, put a bullet to James’ head at his own residence.

While Ford was arrested for the crime and has been forgotten, Jesse James is considered an American icon and is celebrated as a legacy at his former home that has been redesigned to serve as the ‘Jesse James Home Museum’.

17. BoatHenge, Columbia

BoatHenge ColumbiaSource: Show Me Missouri / Facebook
BoatHenge Columbia

It is hard to explain America’s obsession with Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument in England, but, the nation sure has a way of expressing its appreciation towards the iconic structure. After the Foamhenge in Virginia and Carhenge in Nebraska, it is time we take a look at BoatHenge in Columbia, Missouri.

A work of anonymous artists, BoatHenge was first seen in 1993 on a lawn next to the Katy Trail. Seeming like a bunch of boats stuck in the ground in upright position at first, the collection of six fiberglass boats lined in a semilunar formation can only be reached via a canoe, a bicycle, or a lot of walking.

Mysteriously enough, research and observation of the site yielded that the boats’ height, width, and depth underground is EXACTLY the same as that of Stonehenge (Why, America, Why?).

18. The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, Kansas City

The National Museum Of Toys And Miniatures Kansas CitySource: The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures / Facebook
The National Museum Of Toys And Miniatures Kansas City

Established in 1882 as the Kansas City Toy and Miniature Museum, the mansion boasts one of the largest and the finest collections of vintage toys and miniatures to be found in the United States of America. Rewarded with its current ‘national’ status in 2015, the Museum originally started with a collective assortment by Mary Harris Francis and Barbara Marshall.

Since its establishment, the Museum has expanded dramatically and had undergone multiple expansions in 1985, 2004, and 2014.

72,000 items were recorded at the museum during its 2004 expansion.

Expect to find antique dollhouses that look 1000 times better than the real ones we live in, wooden boats, vintage cars, tin toys, and thought-provoking miniature replicas that look like a shrunken version of the original items.

19. The Holy Finger of Kansas City, Kansas City

The Holy Finger Of Kansas City Kansas CitySource: Benjamin Carter / Facebook
The Holy Finger Of Kansas City Kansas City

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is a highly recognized and valued collection that houses several significant Christian relics, but, one of the items on display at the museum stands apart than any other under the roof – a human finger bone and not just any finger bone, but, one that belongs to John the Baptist, the first cousin of Jesus of Nazareth.

A part of the Guelph Treasure housed in Germany’s Brunswick Cathedral, the artifact was brought here when the Nelson Trust decided to buy it.

Reportedly, the right hand of John the Baptist with which he baptized Jesus is in Serbian Orthodox Church, Montenegro, while other body parts are spread over various locations around the world including France and Bulgaria.

20. Kirksville Devil’s Chair, Kirksville

Kirksville Devil's Chair KirksvilleSource: Paranormal Forensics / Facebook
Kirksville Devil’s Chair Kirksville

Officially the “Baird Chair”, the structure was placed by Kirksville’s prominent banker, William Baird.

Baird may not be alive anymore but his influence on the city can be easily spotted around Kirksville. His former home now serves as the Chamber of Commerce while his bank is now Pagliai’s Pizza.

Renamed (unofficially) as the Devil’s Chair by locals, it is believed that something ghastly will happen to those who dare to sit on it at midnight – like an undead hand will appear from the grave and drag you to hell. The legend further elaborates that these occurrences are more likely to happen during special occasions such as Halloween.

21. Former World’s Largest Rocking Chair, Cuba

Former World's Largest Rocking Chair CubaSource: Teri New / Facebook
Former World’s Largest Rocking Chair Cuba

Replaced by the new World’s Largest Rocking Chair created by Jim Bolin and installed in Casey, Illinois, the former World’s Largest Rocking Chair in Cuba, Missouri, was the first of its kind to have gained the reputation when it was created and installed on April Fool’s Day in 2008.

Standing at 42 feet, the welded steel Chair can be found on the stretch of Route 66 that passes through the town of Cuba.

Built with the sole purpose of breaking all records and making it to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Chair’s mammoth structure soon became a serious safety concern. The rocking chair that could actually sway back and forth was securely welded into the ground to save any possible accidents.

Sitting on the chair is prohibited except for a single day every year, the “Picture on Rocker day’, when a lift is commissioned to carry people up and down from the chair.

22. World’s Largest Shuttlecocks, Kansas City

Shuttlecocks Kansas CitySource: Scott Cornell / shutterstock
Shuttlecocks Kansas City

The finger bone of John the Baptist may be the most intriguing piece of relic inside the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, but the Kansas City museum has much more in store for the keen visitors, for example, four 18-foot shuttlecocks!

The mammoth badminton shuttlecocks look like they have been left casually on the ground after a game of badminton played by giant humans. The structures were commissioned after the Sosland family donated the funds to the museum.

Crafted by Claes Oldenburg and his wife, Coosje Van Bruggen, the shuttlecocks are made from fiberglass and aluminum and were installed at the museum grounds in July 1994.

Now considered a permanent part of the city’s folklore, the surrounding grounds have become increasingly popular as a wedding destination and other community events.

23. Cotton Belt Freight Depot, St. Louis

Cotton Belt Freight Depot St. LouisSource: STL From Above / Facebook
Cotton Belt Freight Depot St. Louis

Originally a cotton depot and a significant stopover in the then booming cotton trade that spread over the cities of Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri, the Cotton Belt Freight Depot, with its sculpted terra cotta elements and giant façade covered in remarkable paintwork is an abandoned but exquisite structure on the streets of St. Louis.

Constructed in 1911, the former Freight Depot is a quirky representation of the city’s industrial history.

Standing at a five-story height, the construction is extremely thin and extremely long – about 750 feet long.

Resembling a wall more than an actual building, most of the Freight Depot is covered in graffiti art, of which, the most notable is the “Migrate” mural that was drawn as a part of the depot’s renaissance project.

24. Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum, Mansfield

Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum MansfieldSource: Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum / Facebook
Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum Mansfield

Laura Ingalls Wilder, a celebrated American Writer is best known for her children’s book series “Little House on the Prairie”, loved traveling and spent a lot of her time traversing through the states of Kansas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Missouri.

While there are several significant sites across the trail dedicated to her life and travels, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum in Mansfield, Missouri, features the final years of her life when she lived with Almanzo, and their daughter, Rose, and wrote her Little House series.

At the Home & Museum, you can experience the writer’s home, her farmhouse, and the Rock House. A garden dedicated to Laura’s passion for gardening, “Laura’s Vegetable Garden”, was added later.

There are sections of the museum which are dedicated to Almanzo and Rose.

25. World Chess Hall of Fame, St. Louis

World Chess Hall Of Fame St. LouisSource: FIDE - World Chess Federation / Facebook
World Chess Hall Of Fame St. Louis

WCHOF, short for the World Chess Hall of Fame, is a museum, an educational center, a monument, and a dream destination for every chess lover in the world. The only museum of its kind in America, WCHOF was established in 2011 and is managed by the United States Chess Trust.

Among the many notable pieces in the museum, a book signed by Bobby Fisher depicted various chess openings, a Senet piece as old as 500 years, Paul Murphy’s silver chess set, and the first chess-playing computer stands out as special attractions.

Along with the local chess club, WCHOF offers educational programs for chess enthusiasts of all age and also hosts some of the most competitive tournaments in the nation.

26. Boots Court Motel, Carthage

Boots Court Motel CarthageSource: Yardbird Productions / shutterstock
Boots Court Motel Carthage

Constructed in 1939 on the intersection of Route 66 and U.S. 71, the Boots Court Motel is a historic motel that was established by Arthur Boots, a machinery salesman.

Located at the ‘crossroads of America’, the iconic motel is most known for its “a radio in every room” feature (if not for its fabulous location”. The motel follows a Streamline Moderne Style of architecture and has a covered carport for night visitors.

Famed celebrities like Clark Gable are known to have stayed at the motel.

A neon sign announced its presence on the route for several decades until it was finally shut down. A demolition attempt in 2003 was objected by the locals, and in 2011, two sisters purchased the property and have been making restorations around the motel since then.

New elements have been added even though the owners are trying their best to restore the structure’s original set up from the 1940s.

The reopened Boots Court Motel offers all modern facilities except televisions, however, there is still “a radio in every room.”

27. Lyle Van Houten’s Automotive Museum, Clarence

Lyle Van Houten's Automotive Museum ClarenceSource: Show Me Missouri / Facebook
Lyle Van Houten’s Automotive Museum Clarence

At first glance, the structure looks like a functional gas station stuck in time, but, take a closer look and you will see that it is, in fact, a preserved filling station that now serves as an Automotive Museum.

Situated off the Highway 36 in Clarence, Missouri, the Automotive Museum was created by former owner and operator, Lyle Van Houten, who, instead of selling his little station after 40 years of working here, chose to turn it into a display of vintage cars stuck in the classic era filling station in America.

After retirement, Houten dedicated his time to preserving the original filling pumps and original signboards, a collection of vintage cars with mannequins in costumes from the old era.

An old Clarence squad car, a couple driving their fancy sedan, and an unusual taxi filled with figurines dressed as marching band monkeys are some of the notable displays.

28. Vacuum Cleaner Museum and Factory Outlet, Saint James

Vacuum Cleaner Museum And Factory Outlet Saint JamesSource: Vacuum Cleaner Museum / Facebook
Vacuum Cleaner Museum And Factory Outlet Saint James

America’s fascination with the world’s weirdest collectibles is well-known by now. First, there is the shaker museum, then the hair museum, and now, we discover the Vacuum Cleaner Museum! Like really! Who would have thought Vacuum Cleaners were so important to mankind as to have a museum dedicated to them?

Tom Gasko, the collector of over 600 vacuum cleaners that form the Vacuum Cleaner Museum and Factory Outlet in Saint James, Missouri, started obsessing over these tools at a tender age of 16 (maybe even before that), just a few months before he started working as a sales boy for the product in 1979.

The President of the Vacuum Cleaner Club in 1995 (yes, there is a club like that), Gasko tied up a few other enthusiasts and started collecting different models, antique and modern, and formed the Vacuum Collectors Association (yes, this is also a thing).

Finally, in 2009, Gasko believed he collected enough to start a public display, now known as the Vacuum Cleaner Museum and Factory Outlet. Till today, the owner-turned-curator gives personal tours of his prized collection and is happy to answer all your vacuum-related questions.

29. Maxie, The World’s Largest Goose, Sumner

Maxie, The World's Largest Goose SumnerSource: Noah Stetzer / Facebook
Maxie, The World’s Largest Goose Sumner

Sumner is known as the World’s Wise Goose Capital, and what could be more befitting to the city in Missouri than Maxie, a 40-foot Canadian Goose that stands proudly amidst a public park ready to fly.

More majestic than monstrous, the 4,000-pound goose is not only the mascot of Sumner but is also the reason behind the city’s strange reputation. Standing on its extremely skinny legs, Maxie is known to take a little flight when faced with heavy wind.

The city of Sumner attracts a lot of hunters every year as it sits on the migratory trail of a large number of wild geese that gather around the local lake. An annual goose-themed festival takes place in the city since 1955.

30. Missouri State Penitentiary, Jefferson City

Missouri State Penitentiary, Jefferson CitySource: Nagel Photography / shutterstock
Missouri State Penitentiary, Jefferson City

Missouri gained statehood in 1821 and just after a year, Jefferson City was named as the state’s capital. However, John Miller, the then governor, realized that efforts had to be made to materialize the city’s significance. Hence, he ordered the construction of Missouri State Penitentiary, a maximum-security prison for the most notorious criminals.

The Penitentiary saw its first inmate in 1836 and its first female inmate in 1842. The cells at the prison and any other nearby homes were built by the Penitentiary prisoners. With over 5,000 prisoners, the compound was known to hold the largest outlaw population in the nation in 1932.

However, a major riot in 1954 and other related injuries and deaths gave the State Penitentiary its foul nickname – the bloodiest 47 acres in America.

Charles ‘Sonny’ Lisbon learned to box during his time at the prison and then went on to win the 1953 National Heavyweight Championship held in Chicago.

James Earl Ray was acquitted here in 1959, but, he managed to escape in 1967, and killed Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.

Since its closure in 2004, the Missouri State Penitentiary serves as a museum and has been the subject of over 100 supernatural investigations. Scared much?

30 Amazing Hidden Gems in Missouri:

  • Welch Spring Hospital Ruins, Jadwin
  • Bonne Terre Mines, Bonne Terre
  • Glore Psychiatric Museum, St. Joseph
  • Devil's Icebox, Columbia
  • Lemp Mansion, St. Louis
  • Kansas City Library's Giant Bookshelf, Kansas City
  • Kansas City Workhouse, Kansas City
  • Leila's Hair Museum, Independence
  • Treasures of the Steamboat Arabia, Kansas City
  • Turtle Playground, St. Louis
  • The Ozark Spooklight, Joplin
  • Taum Sauk Mountain, Ironton
  • The Pinnacles, Sturgeon
  • Pruitt-Igoe's Remains, St. Louis
  • Bothwell Lodge, Sedalia
  • Jesse James Home Museum, St. Joseph
  • BoatHenge, Columbia
  • The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, Kansas City
  • The Holy Finger of Kansas City, Kansas City
  • Kirksville Devil's Chair, Kirksville
  • Former World's Largest Rocking Chair, Cuba
  • World's Largest Shuttlecocks, Kansas City
  • Cotton Belt Freight Depot, St. Louis
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum, Mansfield
  • World Chess Hall of Fame, St. Louis
  • Boots Court Motel, Carthage
  • Lyle Van Houten's Automotive Museum, Clarence
  • Vacuum Cleaner Museum and Factory Outlet, Saint James
  • Maxie, The World's Largest Goose, Sumner
  • Missouri State Penitentiary, Jefferson City